The European Commission, whose formal charges could impose a fine in excess of USD 6 billion against the Mountain View, California-based company, also plans to open a separate anti-trust investigation into Google's Android operating system, which dominates the global mobile phone market.

"While Google may be the most used search engine, people can now find and access information in numerous different ways - and allegations of harm, for consumers and competitors, have proved to be wide of the mark," Google Search senior Vice President Amit Singhal said on the firm's official blog.

While in many ways it's flattering to be described as a gatekeeper, the facts don't actually bear that out."

It stressed that people now have "more choice than ever before" when it comes to getting information, thanks to a variety of search engines, specialized services, growing social media use, people going directly to their favorite sites and mobile users going to chosen websites or apps.

The Commission, which polices EU competition policy, cited it had sent a formal "Statement of Objections" to Google charging it with "systematically favoring its own comparison shopping product in its general search results pages."

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